I was reading Liberal Street Fighter’s article about congressional work habits (or perhaps the lack of them) and it got me thinking. The article mentions how many recesses congresscritters currently enjoy. Well, how many recesses should they have? After all, it is good for them to go back and visit their constituents once in a while, isn’t it? How can they get back in touch with those constituents if they’re tied down in Washington practically all the time. Then it hit me: LSF has it exactly backwards. We shouldn’t be keeping them in Washington; we should be keeping them out of Washington. We should make more recesses mandatory. We might not be at the technological point where we can have direct participatory democracy, but we are certainly at the point where videoconferencing and such can allow congresspeople to do the vast majority of their work remotely – just as many others, particularly in high tech, already do. We can get them closer to their constituents, and further from K Street. Make it so that regular people can walk down the street to see their congressman, and lobbyists must get on a plane, instead of the other way around.

This might conflict with congressional rules, of course, but congressional rules are frighteningly anti-constitutional and anti-democratic anyway so screw them. More significantly, there might be ways that a work-from-home legislature might conflict with the constitution. For example, the term “assemble” is used many times and could quite reasonably be interpreted as requiring physical presence. For the most part, I think such issues can be worked around by having congress meet in person monthly (or less). If they can’t, then let’s change the constitution. Clearly the founding fathers did not anticipate modern communications technology, and if they could see it and if its use yields a result more in keeping with their ideals then I’m sure they’d approve. Where’s the down side?